By Titilope Fadare
OrderPaperToday– The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has stated that an amendment of the Universal Basic Education Act will empower the 36 States of Nigeria with more funds to provide quality education.
According to a statement released by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President of the Senate, Yusuph Olaniyonu on Thursday, Saraki said that for many years, many States have been unable to access the intervention funds from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), due to their inability to pay the 50 per cent matching grant prescribed by the Act.
He said: “As things stand, with over 10.5 million out of school children in the country, most states across the Federation cannot meet the required commitment of 50 per cent to access their UBEC funds. There is absolutely no point having over N60 billion of basic education funds lying idle, because the States — due to other necessary commitments — cannot provide the counterpart funding for UBEC.
“This is why the Senate amendment is a downward review from 50 per cent to 10 per cent. What we are doing is telling the states that ‘Look, education is important, we know that you cannot commit the full 50 per cent to UBEC, however, if you can bring 10 per cent of the counterpart funds, you will be able to access this money to improve the quality of basic education.
“This will go a long way in taking many more of our children off the streets and back in the classrooms where they belong.”
Expressing the Senate’s commitment to improved education across the country, Senator Aliyu Wammako (APC, Sokoto), who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic and Secondary Education said “the Compulsory, Free, Universal Basic Education Act of 2004, was amended with a clause that will make primary and secondary education free and compulsory across the country.
“It seeks to increase the block grant contribution of the Federal Government to education just as it seeks to reduce the contribution of the state governments. The two per cent budgetary allocation to the Universal Basic Education by the central government is now increased to three per cent.
“In the past, many states across the federation have blamed their inability to access their UBEC funds on the compulsory payment of 50 per cent matching grants.”